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How your dental health impacts your total health

The condition of your mouth is closely tied to your overall health.  Taking care of your teeth isn’t just about having a nice smile and pleasant breath.  Gum disease is a problem that not only affects your mouth but also your entire body, often before you have any idea that it’s happening.

There has been increased interest in possible links between oral health and body health.  In one recent study, people with serious gum disease were 40% more likely to have a chronic condition on top of it.

Bacteria that builds up on teeth make gums prone to infection.  The immune system moves in to attack the infection and the gums become inflamed.  The inflammation continues unless the infection is brought under control.

Over time, inflammation and the chemicals it releases eat away at the gums and bone structure that hold teeth in place.  The result is severe gum disease, known as periodontitis. Inflammation can also cause problems in the rest of the body.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, about three out of four Americans suffer from some form of gum disease. Gingivitis is an infection and inflammation of the gums caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar at the base of the teeth.  Periodontitis is more severe and typically occurs when gingivitis goes untreated or when its treatment is delayed, and the infection and inflammation spread to the ligaments and bones that support the teeth, eventually causing them to loosen and fall out.

Numerous studies have shown that untreated chronic inflammation of the type that characterizes gum disease can spread and lead to more severe health complications such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, osteoporosis, eating disorders and even Alzheimer’s disease.

People with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease according to the AAP, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications. Those people who don’t have their diabetes under control are especially at risk to develop periodontal disease.

As we get older, the likelihood that we will develop gum disease increases, partly because of naturally occurring bone loss after age 40.  Genetics and certain medications can reduce saliva flow and as we age our mouths produce less saliva. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease.

To protect your health, practice good oral hygiene every day.

Contact Davidson Family Dentistry as soon as an oral health problem arises.  Taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.


Posted April 6th, 2017